CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice kept his initial remarks short during Tuesday’s virtual COVID-19 briefing, but attention soon turned to the role the state’s National Guard could play in controlling protests, if necessary.
When asked if the West Virginia National Guard could be called up in a law enforcement capacity, should protests in the state get out of hand, Gov. Justice said that in cases of violence or looting, he “wouldn’t hesitate one second.” However, Justice wants people to focus on that West Virginians are holding protests in a proper manner.
The West Virginia National Guard will continue to providing PPE to first responders and healthcare works, assist with COVID-19 testing and with food distribution, while also being prepared to help law enforcement, in the state, if necessary, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said. Historically, the Guard tends to provide “backside support,” to law enforcement agencies, which allows more officers to be out on streets, Hoyer said.
National Guard leaders will be taking disciplinary action against a Guard member who made inflammatory comments on social media about protests related to George Floyd’s death, Hoyer said. The Guard does have a social media policy that will be referred to during any disciplinary actions, according to Hoyer.
Monday, the National Guard helped with testing for West Virginia State Police cadets, who were returning to the academy. All tests came back negative, officials said.
The Guard is also helping with testing at William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital in Weston, Hoyer said.
Justice again addressed the state’s revenue situation, saying that the state will be “cash positive,” with cash that the state already has in hand, at the end of the fiscal year on June 30. “We’re not setting around waiting on Rainbow Brite and Peter Pan to come by, we got this and we’re in good shape. We don’t need to dive into the Rainy Day Fund,” Justice said.
During the briefing, Justice held up a letter the state received from the CDC, urging states to test all nursing home. Justice wrote “already done” on the letter, he said, reminding everyone that West Virginia was the first state to test all nursing home facilities.
Gov. Justice gave an impassioned plea for residents to wear masks in public. You can hear his full plea below: